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Clinical Careers in the Corporate Setting - an interview with Dario San Gabriel, Clinical Director for Optum in the Philippines

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ever wonder how it is like to have a clinical career in the corporate setting? Dario, our Clinical Director for Optum, a business of UnitedHealth Group shares his experience on what it’s like to have a clinical career in the corporate world. As a leader in UnitedHealth Group, he also shares how he engages his team, and how he guides them in their career growth.

1. How long have you been working at UnitedHealth Group? What were you doing before you joined?

I have been working at UnitedHealth Group for 2.5 years. Prior to re-establishing residence in the Philippines, I worked in the US for many years as a registered nurse. I was the Manager of a Heart Transplant & Advanced Specialty Services in a large hospital in California just before I started at UnitedHealth Group.    
2. How did you learn about UnitedHealth Group?

I know about UnitedHealth Group in the US however, I learned about its presence in the Philippines through a friend who is also a nurse working in Utilization Management at UnitedHealth Group.

3. Can you share how you started your career with UnitedHealth Group?

I started as an Associate Director for Clinical Services when I was initially hired in 2014. I am now the Director covering the Optum Population Health Management division of UnitedHealth Group- Taguig. In this position, I oversee Philippine and US licensed registered nurses.

4. What makes working for a UnitedHealth Group business unique?

When you work for UnitedHealth Group, you know you work for an internationally well renowned and respected company who not only values diversity but leverages on everyone’s unique abilities and talent.          

5. Many people are not aware that you can still practice your nursing/clinical skills in a corporate setting. Can you share how it is like to have a clinical career in a corporate setting?

A clinical career in a corporate setting is both challenging and innovative. The work entails blending one’s clinical experience, critical thinking, and clinical decision making with technology to help consumers perform self-care, reduce health care costs, and improve quality of life through education, empowerment, support, and advocacy.              

6. What are the career opportunities nurses can get at UnitedHealth Group?

At UnitedHealth Group, front line staff can build a career as people manager or individual contributor. Career growth can happen at several levels from management trainee to assistant manager, deputy manager, service delivery leader up to director and executive levels. Careers in training, consulting as well as project management are also available to those who are interested.        

7. Being a leader in a Fortune 6 company can be challenging. What is a typical work day like as a Clinical Director for Optum, a UnitedHealth Group business?

My work begins in the evening. I attend meetings, present business reviews, and conduct strategic planning. I provide oversight of the clinical operations and lead a team of senior delivery leaders to ensure smooth function of various lines of business. My work includes, motivating people, coaching, mentoring as well as business planning to achieve optimal delivery and financial performance. In addition, my work includes fun activities through monthly employee engagement programs open to everyone in my span.        
8. We are a big company! Can you share how many people are reporting directly under you? How do you keep them engaged and guide them in their career growth?

I currently oversee 180 full time employees. Almost every day, I see to it that I am able to do rounds on my people. I reach out to them, talk to them, encourage them, and help them see the value and meaning of the work they do. I am extremely supportive of career growth. I balance hiring of external talent with building talent from within and promote those who perform well and show leadership capabilities. At UnitedHealth Group, we provide opportunities through our management trainee programs and Talent Development trainings for professional growth and skill enhancement. In addition, we conduct monthly coaching sessions which include professional development discussions leading high performers to the next level of their potential career opportunities within UnitedHealth Group.           

9. What kind of leadership do you provide for the employees reporting under you?

I am a collaborative leader. With my expertise in clinical care and leadership combined with leveraging the individual strengths and talent of my people, we work together as a team to deliver quality work.  
10. How did your leader/manager help you to become who you are today in your career?

My Senior Director who I report to is extremely supportive. He is also collaborative leader like me. He listens and provides appropriate guidance when I seek or need them. He is a role model of strength, intelligence, and compassion.
11. Has there been on story that reminds you of the impact you make as a Clinical Director?

When I was just starting at UnitedHealth Group there were skepticism around our ability to open and sustain a telephonic case and disease management program run by US licensed registered nurses in Manila.  Knowing we have an abundance of not only compassionate but excellent registered nurses in the Philippines, I leveraged my many years of clinical and leadership experience in the US and along with the support of my BPO experienced leaders, together we successfully launched the said program. The program is now in existence for over two years consistently meeting and exceeding all metric thresholds and delivering high quality care with excellent client satisfaction scores.   

12. For our last question, any tips for nurses who would want to start a career with UnitedHealth Group?

Prepare for a career that will challenge your strengths and abilities yet fulfill your personal and professional goals.

Learn more about Nurse Leadership opportunities

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